Humans are born with emotions and the knowledge that they can be applied. When a baby is distressed, he will cry out, knowing (subconsciously) that help will arrive. Using emotions as a step in understanding our world and expressing them is a part of who we are. Then, at some point, we find the Jedi path. How do we reconcile our emotional triggers and tools with the phrase, "There is no emotion ~ there is peace"? To explore this first line of the Jedi Code, I'm gong to look at emotions and how they affect us, and the idea of the individual as one with the Force as it pertains to emotional well-being.
We experience a variety of emotions - happiness, joy, sadness, anger, fear, wonder, love, terror, calm, awe, hurt, fatigue. and more. Jedi feel these emotions as they go through the daily experiences. Just as non-Jedi, our bodies do react to emotions, even in just feeling them, let alone acting up them. When one feels happiness or joy, the body responds by producing certain chemicals that promote health and well-being. Conversely, feeling fear or anger brings a bodily reaction that harms our cells and leads to physical illnesses. Bio-chemically speaking, though we may feel all of our emotions, some certainly have a healthier effect on us.
Where we're not necessarily able to control whether or not we feel emotions initially, it is within a Jedi's domain to exercise emotional responsibility. The reason for this control works at the individual and "global" level. As feeling an emotion affects our body, so does acting/reacting from an emotional standpoint. When one acts from a point of view of love, or joy, the body produces endorphins that boost the body's immune system and promotes further well-being. When one acts from anger, the body reacts by giving an emotional high too, but the long-term effect is detrimental to the body. From my own experiences, I used to play pool a lot. I also lost at pool 99% of the time. Missed shots. Early on, I would "experiment" with my emotional reaction and the result it would have on the game. When I acted on the game from anger, I would make a shot more often then not. Yet, I would find that those feelings of anger/aggression carried with me into my conversations, driving home, etc. When I approached my losing games with joy in the face of losing, I found that I would also make the shots and my later actions in conversation, driving, etc also occurred with joy/happiness intact. Regardless, I found that I still lost at pool; one cannot substitute pure practice and skill! Globally speaking, any empath will tell you that people project their emotional energy like beacons. One "clutters" the Force and other people when one does not control emotional reactions.
Thinking of the saying, "Will this [issue] matter in 100 years?" may be a good way to approach the Jedi way, Force connections and emotions. We as people feel emotions. As Jedi, we seek to act with emotions that are healthy and serve the greatest good. These are peaceful states of being that work in harmony with the Force. Another way of saying this is: at the micro level (base humanity), there is emotion. At the macro level (spiritual heighteness), there is peace, not emotion. As a Jedi attains a deep connection to the Force, he IS the Force and finds that "There is no emotion ~ There is peace."
Writers and poets in the 19th century believed that nature, other people and life's experiences held wisdom, infinite knowledge. Notables like Wordsworth, Keats, Emerson, Thoreau and Whitman adopted the view that everything could teach them. about themselves or life. With that mindset, "There is no ignorance ~ there is knowledge" is a feasible Jedi maxim.
Acceptance that knowledge - wisdom - can come from any source is the first step. Paying attention to the synchronicity of experiences is important; if you continually see a certain person, perhaps he has a message for you. Being aware of what's going on around you - socially, internally - opens you up to receiving life's knowledge. from people, from the plants, from inspiration's source itself. A source whom you may never expect to serve as a teacher may pass along the nugget you needed at that time.
Pursuing knowledge also means active research. This is not to say that all Jedi belong in a library 24/7! :-) Rather, it is to say that the superficial is not enough for a Jedi. Research could mean asking "important" questions to discern the truth. It could mean reading up on a topic, or again, paying attention to the subtext to find out what is really being said. It's evident that Jedi have a pact for life-long learning, if that means academics, individual pursuits or awareness.
Finally, a Jedi has the responsibility to spread knowledge or truth when its called for. This doesn't necessarily mean "shouting truth from the rooftops" though it may have its place too. More often, the responsibility is to honestly inform.
A Jedi must pursue knowledge, always. Turning one's head to experience or enlightenment is not an option - that is the "there is no ignorance" part after all!
I love many people. I love doing/performing some of my favorite activities like juggling, and writing. I could say I have a passion for some of these. But, the Code says, "There is no passion ~ there is serenity." What to do?
The point of view of the Code, to me, suggests being out-of-control with one's passions. In the film Somewhere In Time, a character asks, "Excess within control?" In my life as an amateur juggler, this line of the Code means: Love what you do, and do well at it. But, do not practice to the point that you're "useless" for anything else... or become obsessive and exclude the rest of life's details from your awareness.
If a Jedi has a zest for life, but has self-control in that zeal, we think the Jedi is in a serene state of being. Focused, yet aware. Love tempered with awareness beyond the self's needs. Thus, a Jedi can show/live by a life of compassion - that being of a free giving of self.
The third approach one might take is working from the point of view that the Code is a step ladder. Accepting or controlling passion leads to serenity inorder to bring resolution toward the 4th pillar of the Jedi Code. Living for the day (or rather, living as if this was the first day of your life), but with the acceptance that this existence is but a step in our journey.
I completely agree that the focus is on "desire" rather than a sense of passionate love only. Yet, those two can be intertwined as well. Desire itself comes in many forms... a desire for love, money, status, knowledge, control, etc, etc. I hoped in my initial post just to touch on this from a couple of points of view rather than ramble the "whole" gamut.
It's interesting as a side-note, though, in Star Warsian point of view how they range on the love/marriage issue. In the Jedi Apprentice novels, Qui-Gon and Tahl are ready to enter into a life-bond. Yet, from what we've seen of Ep II, the posters for the movie read: "A Jedi shall not know... fear, hatred... or love." Interesting how it changes in Lucasfilm land.
In my own opinion, and my poor way of expressing "proofs" :), I present this:
The Force = life.
There is no death ~ there is the Force.
Therefore, there is no death ~ there is life.
For me, this is a good way to begin my views on that fourth pillar of the Jedi Code. Keeping LIFE in mind. Religious beliefs seem to handle death in one manner or another. It's viewed as a "reward" by being allowed in Heaven - a return to the "other side" where one meets his/her spirit guides - a "blip" in our overall experience as we return for yet another life of learning until nirvana is reached. For others, death may be "nothing" at all. For each Jedi then, this line of the Code may have a different spin to it. My personal belief is in reincarnation... where we choose what lessons we want to learn and experience in each lifetime, and come here for that purpose. When we have learned "everything" we intend to, then we stay over on that "other side" and be one with the Force.
Still, there are other approaches a Jedi can take in interpreting this portion of the Code. For instance, let's approach it situationally. Much of life seems to be a continual circle - fashion, habits, trends, etc. What goes out of style and "dies" usually comes back around in 20 or so years. :) The cycle just continues on, you know? Even in situations that may be personally hard to cope with... though the "Eeyore Gloomy Cloud" may rain on a Jedi or a situation he/she faces at one point, there's the understanding that things will change and improve when the time is right. There is no death ~ there is the force, to me, seems to speak of change being inevitable and to accept that.
Another approach (and this ties into what I said in the "Sensuality of Life" post last week) would be to look at the Jedi Code as a sort of chain of thought or preparation. In accepting life for the now (pillar 3), we are then prepared for the Jedi's physical death... at least intellectually, though hopefully spiritually as well with time. The presence of a religious or spiritual view on what happens upon death comes into play here, as I said before, and that is an individual interpretation.